On Monday night the Clarke County School Board unanimously approved a one-time “hybrid” payment of approximately 1.7% of salaries to all school employees currently on the CCPS payroll. The “hybrid” compensation plan, which differs from traditional plans where employees receive a straight percentage of a fixed salary amount, is intended to ensure that low salary earners receive a “lump sum” payment – rather than a small percentage of an already small salary – while more tenured staff members receive a traditional fixed percentage amount. Employees at the top end of the CCPS pay scale, above $60K, will also receive a lump sum payment.
The total cost to Clarke County taxpayers of the one-time payout is $246K with around $228K available for actual distribution once federal taxes have been deducted.
“It’s important to be reminded that this $250K is not a lot of money on the whole,” CCPS School Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy said to the school board and approximately thirty people who attended the Monday night meeting. “The money earmarked for employee compensation is less than 2% of the district’s total payroll.”
While the actual payment amounts to school staff will be small (the 120 full-time-equivalent staff members making less than $25K will receive $425, the 16 staff members making over $60K will receive $1,020 while the approximately 97 remaining staff will receive an average of around $1,500 each) school administration based the suggested one-time payment, in part, based on compensation patterns in neighboring jurisdictions.
Assistant Superintendent Rick Catlett presented the school board with compensation research indicating that nearly all of Clarke County’s fourteen neighboring school districts intend to offer their staff some form of compensation increase in either fiscal year 2011 or 2012.
During public comment on the proposed salary bonuses several CCPS teachers and one member of the general public spoke in favor of the one-time payment.
Kristen Barker, a fourth grade teacher at Boyce Elementary school, told the school board that a one-time “hardship stipend” will provide an important show of support to Clarke County’s teaching community. Kathy Hudson, a librarian at Boyce Elementary, said that even a small amount of money will do a lot to help teacher morale.
Clarke County citizen Tony Parrott told the school board that a pay increase for CCPS employee was long overdue. “Three years without a raise is pretty depressing, even in this economy” Parrott said.
Although the Clarke County School Board approved the one-time payment using carryover funding from fiscal year 2009, the recommendation must now be forwarded to the Clarke County Board of Supervisors for final review. But even though Monday night’s school board action came after months of discussion prior to final adoption of the county budget, the Board of Supervisors has not sent a clear signal that it intends to approve the payment.
During budget deliberations at least one supervisor, John Staelin (Millwood) voiced concern that if school employees receive a bonus fairness requires that county employees receive similar treatment. The Supervisors have also repeatedly warned the school board that the coming fiscal year is shaping up to be more challenging than the current economic situation which recently necessitated elimination of eight full-time-equivalent positions from the school district payroll.
In any case, the school board’s Monday night approval of the one-time payout to school employees now moves forward to the Board of Supervisors for likely consideration at a June public hearing. Perhaps signaling that the final disposition of a payment is not quite yet a done deal, school board chairman Barbara Lee (Millwood) offered a reminder to the crowd as it filed out of the school board meeting after the hearing the affirmative vote;
“If there is a public hearing on this I hope to see all of your beautiful faces there!” Lee said.